The Fella and I were getting dinner ready when he said, "Huff Post says a Robin Williams is dead. He apparently committed suicide."
"That's not true," I said. "That's not funny."
I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. As I type this, I feel like I need to throw up.
I didn't know Robin Williams, obviously. He was a famous comedian. A celebrity. While I frequently feel as though I should be a celebrity (such a pity that the world fails to recognize my fabulousness!), I am not, in fact, an A-lister. I am a Z-lister.
However. I am also someone with issues. I struggle with anxiety and depression and the stuff that comes with both of those.
So maybe I didn't know Robin Williams?
But I know something about how he might have felt.
Some of the people I love most in this world have tried to end their lives.
Some have succeeded.
It never doesn't hurt. It never doesn't make me wish I could do more for them. Be more. Show them more love. Be more present. Offer more help and hope.
It never fails to make me feel as though I've failed them.
And it never fails to make me think of the times I've been that low, that sad and desperate and afraid, but somehow managed not to hurt myself.
The truth -- the naked, ugly truth -- Is that I've been there. When I say there was a time when I wanted to drive off a bridge, I'm not kidding. I was so close.
There were -- there are -- people who grounded me and kept me here, and so here I am, and here I am determined to stay; I want to convince other people who are struggling to keep fighting, to tell them: you are loved. You are NEEDED. Your presence here is required!
Because people did it for me, and because some of these folks? I really can't imagine living without.
A long time ago, my cousin Jay and I talked about the things that made us really happy. "Dolphins," he said. "They're like nature's Prozac."
"Robin Williams," I said. "Robin Williams always makes me laugh."
"What about a documentary on dolphins, hosted by Robin Williams? That would be, like, the best thing ever."
Two weeks later, Jay sent me a video and a note: "seriously, I couldn't believe it when I saw it."
It was a documentary on dolphins. Hosted by Robin Williams.
At one point, he was swimming with them and clearly overcome with joy -- it was so gloriously, amazingly happy that it made me cry.
To be honest, it still does.
And I'm not sure what to do with any of this.
I didn't know Robin Williams, but I grieve for his family. I am so sorry for them, and I am so sorry for how he must have struggled.
I do know people who struggle regularly. I identify myself as one of them. And I think ... I know ... That if we're all more honest and open about that struggle? It becomes easier.
If you are one of those struggling: you are not alone. You are loved. You are needed. You deserve to be here. There is so much here and your part in it? Is so essential.
Please, please stay.